EU Taps Astrium To Map Carbon Concentrations

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PARIS — Astrium Services will lead a team to study carbon sources and carbon sinks here using ground-, air- and space-based sensors under a three-year contract with European Union (EU) institutions valued at 4 million euros ($5.4 million), Astrium announced Feb. 14.

The contract with the European Commission’s Knowledge and Information Community-Climate organization and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology comes at a time of major budget cuts to European environmental satellite programs.

The effects of the lower-than-expected budgets for Earth observation satellites at the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Commission are still being assessed. But ESA officials have warned of a one- or two-year delay in its Earth Explorer-8 mission. One of the candidate satellites would study carbon emissions worldwide.

The 2014-2020 budget for the European Commission’s GMES/Copernicus program for environmental monitoring has been cut by 35 percent by the 27 European Union governments, and program backers have warned that belt-tightening alone will not be enough to overcome the resulting shortfall.

With no global carbon-monitoring satellite in view for now, the Astrium contract starts locally, one city at a time.

Astrium said it tested its carbon-monitoring plan in London in the summer of 2012. The three-year contract for Paris will produce 1-kilometer-resolution maps of where carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide are produced, and where the gases collect, such as wooded areas. The data will be turned over to city and regional government authorities to use to enforce European Union emissions regulations.